UAB Blazers (2-1) at North Texas Mean Green (1-2)
Location: Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX
Time: 5:30 pm CT
TV: BeIN Sports
Betting Line: UNT -13, O/U 60.5
History: UAB leads series 2-0, with wins in 1995 and 2014
UAB and North Texas will face off for the third time in their series history on Saturday at Apogee Stadium. UAB is 2-0 all-time against North Texas with wins in 1995 (UAB’s first win over a Division 1-A program) and 2014 (UAB won 56-21). This is UAB’s second road game of the season and the Blazers are coming off of a 30-23 win against Coastal Carolina. North Texas is looking for their second home win of the year after back-to-back road losses to SMU and Iowa.
UAB is led by quarterback A.J. “The General” Erdely who has seven touchdowns so far this year, five rushing and two passing. UAB has established themselves as a predominantly rushing offense using as many as 4 different running backs per game and having Erdely as a dual threat. Freshman Spencer Brown leads UAB in rushing yards and is a powerful back between the tackles. Defensively, UAB is led by senior middle linebacker Tevin Crews who has 19 total tackles and one interception this season. The Blazers are third in the conference in total yards allowed per game at 295.7 yards.
North Texas brings a more powerful offense to this Conference USA matchup. The Mean Green are led by sophomore quarterback Mason Fine. Fine has thrown for 815 yards and six touchdowns this season. The Mean Green also have a high-powered running game to balance out the offense. Senior Jeffery Wilson has added 305 on the ground and 5 touchdowns. Defensively, UNT is led by sophomore safety Khairi Muhammad who has 26 total tackles and one fumble recovery.
The Bottom Line
If UAB cannot establish the run, it will be a long day. UAB like to run a diamond set offense that gives the quarterback the option to run, hand it off, or gain a blocker for a pass. UAB is also going to have to cut the silly mistakes. UAB has fumbled on kickoffs in two of their first three games. They have allowed a blocked PAT that was returned for a 2-point conversion. The Blazers have also racked up 22 penalties for 236 yards.
As a UAB fan, patience has been the number one goal this season, but at some point, the mistakes have to stop. UAB shot themselves in the foot in the Ball State game by allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown, turning the ball over on downs, and fumbling the ball all within 10 minutes of the game. The Blazers have also had an issue of getting off the field on third down defense by allowing third and long conversions. UAB cannot afford to make crucial mistakes in key winnable games, and this game is potentially winnable for the Blazers.
North Texas has a similar problem with third downs. Defensively, the Mean Green currently allow 44% of third down conversions so far. On offense, UNT has only successfully converted on 28% of third downs. UNT’s passing offense will play right into UAB’s issue of allowing third and long plays. UNT will also need to cut down on interceptions as UAB is tied for first in C-USA with four interceptions this season.
This is going to be one of the better games in Conference USA this week. UAB’s tough defense versus the North Texas powerful offense. The betting line on the game has shifted from a -10, to -13 for North Texas. Despite the young mistakes, I think UAB will overcome and steal this game to take them one step closer to bowl eligibility.
Final: UAB 38- North Texas 31